By Chiara Rizzolo

A spatial journey with Leunora Salihu, the Kosovian artist abstracting and redefining shapes from everyday life

Leunora Salihu foto Mathias Schormann

Leunora Salihu foto Mathias Schormann

Leunora Salihu (1977, Pristina, Kosovo) is a multifaceted artist combining different industrial and organic materials to explore space through – or maybe, beyond – the physicality of her sculptures.
Every piece – be it a ceramic work or a temporary public installation – challenges the possibilities and limits of movement juxtaposing natural and constructive “form-elements” from industrial, architectural and design fields.

I’m looking for something extraordinary in form and material, paired with the temporal aspects of movement. Condensing such contrasts into a clear image is appealing to me.
Her “Spatialism” explores the classic questions of sculpture, such as the relationship between volume and surrounding space, the dynamism of the whole related to its individual parts and the interplay between sculpture and pedestal. Hereby she creates voluminous objects, often recurring to familiar shapes mimicking human proportions or architectural prototypes of human habitations (like in Haus, 2009) – ranging till the anatomy of insects, hives or nests.
Ceramic, wood, and metal are combined with minute care and tenacity, giving each sculpture not only an original shape but also a consistent “geometry of presence” – and therefore, of distance – in Space.
The poet is a pretender” once wrote Fernando Pessoa referring to the artist’s ability to create a perfect illusion in the eye of the beholder but don’t call her an “illusionist”: her sculptures are meant to be a ‘unicum’, a continuous “transition between an object and its base or between inside and outside” she says. Nothing’s hermetic, nothing’s hidden. For a while, you could say they even defy the commonsense requirement of finiteness.
Every sculpture is an encounter: what the viewer witnesses is a kind of physical presence, a face-to-face interaction turning everyone into an integral part of the work. There’s a timeless, ethereal balance between the austerity of the composition and the light permeability of the objects and this astonishing perception is made possible thanks to the accurate combination of antithetical materials such as wood and metal; plaster and ceramics, resin and clay…
Leunora Salihu’s sculptures create an apparent paradox: at first glance, almost every object seems to be asking for a symbolical, multi-layered interpretation.  But this is misleading, for it denies the intense physical realism of the artist’s creations. If it is still “symbolic truth” that we are to find here, then we still have to start a conversation with the form, which is as meaningful on the small size, though evident on the large.  Salihu’s artworks are exceptional for they spur an audacious human endeavor to embrace space, to fill and understand it from every perspective.
Leunora Salihy - Leunora Salihu, Turm, 2010-2011, Galerie Thomas Schulte

Leunora Salihy – Leunora Salihu, Turm, 2010-2011, Galerie Thomas Schulte

This is the reason why her public installations are meant to be temporary interventions rather than permanent. Everything is designed in such a way that the sculptures do not lose their ethereal aura becoming an ‘invading fetish’. Pressed wood or roofing gently combines with parks and places’s aesthetic, allowing the artwork to remain fully visible (and interacting).